Transcript of: "Tom Secker on Operation Gladio"

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0:00 James Corbett: Welcome. This is James Corbett of CorbettReport.com. It is the 17th of January, 2013, and today we are joined by Tom Secker, our good friend from InvestigatingTheTerror.com. And if you haven't checked it out yet, I hope you will. It's a wellspring of information, a veritable fountain of information on terrorism, terror events, terrorists, and accused terrorists, terror plots, and everything to do with the noun, and adjective, and verb terror. So let's [laughter] let's bring him into the conversation. Tom, always a pleasure to have you on the program. Thank you so much for joining us today.

0:36 Tom Secker: Thank you for having me back, James. It's good to talk to you again.

0:40 James: Absolutely.

0:40 Tom: Thanks for the glowing introduction. [laughter]

0:44 James: Yes, absolutely. Well, no, it is good to have you here, because truly you are a fountain of information on all of these things, and I love picking your brain on topics related to some of these terror events, because I know you do the real research of the real documents and things. So I'm excited to pick your brain on tonight's topic. I wanted to talk about Operation Gladio, which is something that I think a lot of people in the audience will have heard of and will be familiar with to a certain extent, if from nothing else, then from a previous episode of my podcast where I sort of talked about Operation Gladio and some of the aspects of it and what was involved.

1:16 But I think this is one of those things that is just such a huge thing that I don't think we've really done service to the history and the scope of what this program was, how it operated, who was behind it, when it started, how it started, when it ran to. I mean, there's so much to cover with something like this. So my mind boggles at how to even begin a conversation like this, but I suppose one would usually start such a conversation at the beginning, so why don't we be conventional and do that? Perhaps you can tell us in a little bit greater detail how Operation Gladio came together, and who was really behind putting this idea into operation?

2:01 Tom: Well, I mean, it started during World War II. World War II obviously was a massive conventional military war, but it was also a massive unconventional intelligence war. And in fact, that's largely... I think -- perhaps because of my biases and interests -- I think that was how it was really won and lost, in a lot of respects. And Gladio started out as simple stay-behind units, the idea being that when... it was kind of inspired by when the Nazis spread out from Germany and seized Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Denmark, Norway, Holland. The armies in a lot of those countries decided that they weren't going to fight them, basically. That is either... there was no point trying to directly confront the Nazi war machine.

2:49 But what they did, and what other countries on their side of the conflict did, was leave in stay-behind units, secret military units that could be activated once the incoming, the invading army had taken over. So that's kind of where the idea for a stay-behind army starts. And interestingly enough, Ian Fleming's brother was in the Special Operations Executive and was involved in setting up the stay-behind armies during World War II.

3:18 Anyway, towards the end of the war, when it became relatively clear that the Allies were going to win and that the Axis powers were going to lose, the intelligence apparatus that had been set up -- particularly in Britain, but also in America -- became convinced that the next great threat, the great post-war threat, was going to come from Russia. And this is sort of before the Soviet Union even really was the Soviet Union as we conceive of it, I think. But nonetheless, they thought very much that the danger was that having exhausted so much defeating fascism, defeating the Nazis, that they would leave themselves open to a Soviet conquering, a Russian conquering of Western Europe.

4:07 So at the end of the War, when most of the troops -- the winning troops, the Allied troops -- went home and got on with their lives or as much as they could various units -- both intelligence and military units -- were left in almost every Western European nation -- at least over a dozen Western European nations in any case. And these were under the guidance of the Special Operations Executive, which is sort of the paramilitary arm of MI6, or became that; and the OSS, which became the CIA. So that's where the operation began. And it did, I think, begin quite genuinely: they genuinely -- rightly or wrongly -- conceived of a Russian threat, and these units were actually left there, at least in the start, for the purpose of potentially defending against that forthcoming invasion.

5:03 James: But as your tone indicates, that of course isn't where things left off. And it developed a kind of life of its own. It kind of developed into something different; and it took different forms in different countries. And as I understand it, Italy perhaps was the most advanced or most developed form of this stay-behind operation that kind of took on a life of its own in the ensuing decades. And I suppose that is because of a number of factors, not least due to the internal politics of each country.

5:31 But let's talk about NATO and how it started to become involved with this; because, as you say, this was an essentially an intelligence operation. And as I understand it, there was something to do with NATO protocols; and as countries signed on to NATO, basically, part of what they were signing on to was basically a tacit understanding that they wouldn't tackle right-wing extremists committing certain attacks and spectacular events. To what extent do we have that formalized? To what extent do we know about those types of protocols? And to what extent was NATO really involved in furthering Operation Gladio?

6:10 Tom: Well, I think NATO was centrally involved in turning Gladio from its original form of these essentially defensive stay-behind armies into something more proactive. I mean, the exact documentation on NATO's, as you say, sort of, obligation, its protocols to member states as to what, I suppose, the political formulation of those countries would look like, and in particular what the politics of their security services would be: I'm sure it is very well-documented somewhere. But it's not the easiest thing to get your hands on NATO paperwork. In fact it's almost impossible: NATO have refused, to my knowledge, every Freedom of Information request on this topic.

7:02 But there are testimony from NATO officials and from other people involved in these circles around this time -- diplomatic circles and so on -- who were saying that this is, in effect, what the deal was. That, as is so often the case with these things, the extent to which it was formalized: fair question, but it's kind of maybe beside the point. The point is, were those nations obliged to go along with this or not, regardless of whether it was on paper or whether it was just sort of said in the wind.

7:34 So I think NATO was integrally involved, in fact, in changing Gladio from its original form into its eventual form. Because NATO is essentially the Anglo-American establishment. That's all it ever really was -- or it's a kind of outgrowth of that. Most of the member states of NATO don't really have a say in anything that it does. They just kind of have to go along with it. And in particular if you look at, for example, the National Security Council's documents in the immediate post-war period, in the mid-to-late 40's, they explicitly talk about how, for example, the CIA was the designated agency for dealing with internal insurrections, as they saw it: i.e., political problems in other countries.

8:24 Exactly what this connection between CIA and NATO is, to be honest, I'm not sure. It's not something I have a massive amount of information on. There must be quite a lot of connections. But I read Daniele Ganser's book on this, and I recently read Richard Cottrell's book on this, and they only really manage to establish a kind of Department of Defense-NATO connection. The CIA-NATO connection is pretty much shrouded in secrecy. So exactly where the lines of authority are being drawn in this is not at all clear. What happened is relatively clear; exactly who was responsible a bit more, kind of, fuzzy.

9:04 James: But as you say, I think it probably is a little bit of a formality to establish the paperwork of it. And in some ways, I think this goes to show that there is, in fact, some sort of governing principle, governing bodies, governing people behind the scenes that are not necessarily established through paperwork that's documented, but are demonstrably still behind these types of operations. Perhaps most notably, in this particular instance, with the French withdrawal from NATO: which, of course, did not affect in any way the stay-behind operation that was in France. There were still the stay-behind units there.

9:42 So I think we can see that there is a kind of a disconnect between whatever formal agreements might have been functioning and what individual countries might have been actually doing on the ground. And I think another example of that is the fact that many of the leaders of these countries did not necessarily know about the stay-behind operations in those countries. Perhaps you can speak to the kind of disconnect between the actual reality and who knew what about what was actually happening in their own countries.

10:12 Tom: Well, I mean, there is a useful example in the Portuguese Gladio, in that it wasn't quite as formally involved with the local intelligence services as it was in other countries, in particular in Italy. In Italy, you're talking about military intelligence people setting up -- actually creating from the ground up -- right-wing extremist militant groups like Ordine Nuovo, Avanguardia Nazionale. These were invented by people like Pino Rauti, who worked for the Italian military intelligence. That's kind of unambiguous.

10:49 In Portugal, it was a bit different. I'm not convinced that there's any evidence that I've seen that the local Portuguese intelligence actually knew what was going on. It was largely run through an organization called the Aginter Press -- who were, as the name suggests, they were a kind of radical publishing press; a radical right-wing publishing house. But that in itself was a front for a bunch of people who have all kinds of OSS connections or neo-Nazi connections, and what have you. One guy in particular, the guy who set up the Aginter Press, was a guy called Yves Guérin-Sérac. He is ex-Vichy military intelligence from World War II. He's a Nazi collaborator.

11:34 So he set up this organization, and it is used for not just propagating right-wing ideology -- or, what: extreme right-wing ideology -- but also for transshipment of the various things that you would need to run a secret army. So we are talking explosives and guns, but we are also talking people. The Aginter Press, in particular, was involved with shipping people over to Latin America so they could be trained in the School of the Americas. It links up to that extent.

12:15 And obviously some of these people then end up in coups like the one in Chile. So it's sort of... it's obviously connected directly to British and American military, and British and American intelligence. But I don't think... I've never come across, for example, a local Portuguese intelligence agent who was working at a high level in the Aginter Press. I've never found any kind of connection like that in my reading on the topic. So all of this suggests very much that this is sort of not just an outgrowth of the stay-behind armies from World War II, but I suppose also an outgrowth from Project Paperclip and the Western Nazi collaboration post-war, because a lot of these people then seem to turn up in the early 1940s, 1950s Gladio gangs.

13:15 James: It's almost as if a losing Nazi regime in Europe would have... what they would have wanted to have occurred is basically to have these right-wing extremist groups energized and able to act in all of these different countries. And lo and behold, that's exactly what they got under the guise of anti-Communism.

13:32 Tom: Yes.

13:33 James: So I mean, I don't know whose agenda was being served here, but certainly it did kind of work out in a certain way for the extremists. And as you say, in different countries, that took different forms. And in Italy, the extremist groups were created from the ground up. But it strikes me that we've been conversing for nearly a quarter of an hour here, and yet we have barely even discussed what these... some of these groups actually did. Which, I think, is probably the important point to get to. So let's talk about some of the events that we now know definitively were actually perpetrated by some of these stay-behind groups that grew out of the original groups.

14:08 Tom: OK. I mean, the point at which it fundamentally seems to change -- where Gladio goes from being a reactive, defensive stay-behind army to being a proactive terrorist organization, an international terrorist organization, probably the biggest international terrorist organization that's ever existed: that seems to take place in the late '50s, early '60s. The pattern that Richard Cottrell draws out, in particular, is that you have Lyman Lemnitzer. He's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time of that Bay of Pigs, which involves some kind of false-flaggy strategies and, explicitly in Northwoods,involves false-flag terrorism. Lemnitzer, then, gets kind of eased out, and where did he end up? He ends up as head of the, kind of, NATO military. He ends up in Brussels.

15:11 And at that point, or around that point, Gladio seems to change. Whether that's specifically because of Lemnitzer -- Cottrell says yes, I say I'm not entirely convinced but it certainly wouldn't surprise me -- in the late '60s or mid-late '60s, we see the explosion of a whole series of different militant conflicts across Europe. Not just in terms of what are called the "Years of Lead" in Italy, which run from approximately '67 to about 1990, I suppose; to the end of the Cold War; where you have lots of shootings, lots of bombings, lots of assassinations, lots of kidnappings, all forms of terrorism, kind of urban guerrilla terrorism, that you can think of: Italy experienced them in huge numbers -- we're talking hundreds dead -- well, thousands dead, ultimately, over the decades -- but also in other countries and in other forms.

16:05 And I tend to see the so-called Troubles in Northern Ireland as a kind of British Gladio. Not entirely, not exactly the same sort of thing, but it happens at the same time. It's also, I think, in '67 that the, kind of, Irish War kicked off again. In Italy, specifically, there was a series of bombings, the Piazza Fontana bombings, which -- I think it was '69, I'm not sure of the exact date -- well, a whole series of bombs were set off in several different cities, and further bombs were found. It was obviously intended to be a huge, bloody massacre. And this is blamed explicitly on left-wing extremists.

16:55 Because at that point in Italy the Italian Communist party in particular was gaining a lot of votes, and it was gaining a lot of support. And even, in some ways, the more radical local Communist groups were gaining a reasonable amount of support, because they weren't particularly militant, they were just radical. And regardless of what you might think of Communism, the point is it should really be up to the Italian public whether they want Communism in their country or not. And obviously, the Pentagon, the CIA, MI6 didn't think so. The Foreign Office didn't think so.

17:28 So their response to this was rather crude: it was to simply have local right-wing extremists that they'd sponsored and trained and equipped to carry out these attacks like Piazza Fontana, like the bombing of the Italicus Express in the '70s, like the Peteano bombing -- well, that's a bit different, but similar kind of thing. All of these were carried out, ultimately, by right-wing extremists who were proxies of Italian intelligence and CIA and NATO, and they were all blamed on left-wing extremists as a means of discrediting Communism, Socialism, and Leftism in general.

18:09 James: As we say, the Italian context is perhaps the most obvious and the most blatant, the most violent of the various Gladio operations. But that's the one that I think I know most about and I've heard most about. What are some of the other examples in some of the other countries? What kinds of events? Are we talking about similar types of events, or is it a different phenomenon altogether?

18:29 Tom: Well, as I said, I think in Britain you have the Northern Irish thing. Because there, again, just as in Italy you had the, sort of, right-wing, the Catholics, the neo-fascists or at least the people who kind of paid lip service to fascism on one hand, and you had the Communists and Socialists and radical Leftists on the other hand. And they were split, very much, into two camps. And the tension between them and the polarization was very much pushed. And this is all part of the Gladio strategy that is documented, that you can find written down.

19:07 And you get a similar sort of thing in Northern Ireland, between -- on the one hand, you have the loyalist paramilitaries, the ones who were essentially pro-British; and on the other hand you have the Republican paramilitaries, who are very anti-British. And there, again, those two camps: I mean, it's the same bunch of people living on the same patch of land, but the aim, obviously was: infiltrate both of them, direct both of them towards violence that is conducive to British interests, create as big a division between them as possible. Because that, in turn, will stilt the political process of Northern Irish independence. And that's exactly what happened: that's exactly what they managed to accomplish. And it's the same kind of thing that we're talking about: bombings and shootings and urban terrorism.

19:56 It gets a bit different when you get over towards Turkey. But there, again, you have, if you like, the division between the Islamic or Islamist factions, sort of join up with the Kurdish independence movement -- in a broad spectrum, political spectrum term. They're on the same side. And on the other side you have the military and the secularists, the Kemalists. So there, again, what they did was use the local nationalists, the Grey Wolves, to carry out terrorist attacks and provoke, if you like, help provoke copycat attacks. So that what you end up with is just this... you stir up the pot. You stir up the tension. You stir up the polarization. You stir up the hostility and the suspicion and the hatred and the anger.

20:49 And as a result, you destroy any real possibility of a kind of rational or democratic political process, and also create a political vacuum. Sort of between the two poles, you create a political vacuum into which you then pour what it is that you want to ultimately see happen. And like I say, this is documented Gladio strategy. The guy I was talking about, Yves Guérin-Sérac, wrote a book for the Aginter Press called Our Political Activity where he explicitly said, "The aim is cause chaos, cause polarization; and that will create a kind of moral vacuum into which we can insert our political agenda." That's essentially what he said.

21:30 James: So just to be clear, this is the strategy of tension. Or is there a difference between strategy of tension and this idea?

21:36 Tom: No, no. This is fundamentally what I understand the Strategy of Tension to be. It's about divide... sort of divide and conquer, in a way; but mixed with a sort of order out of chaos notion that, like I say, if you create a political vacuum, you can then justify your own claim to moral superiority, your own claim to political justification, whatever. And this doesn't just function domestically -- within a nation, within Italy within Turkey, within Northern Ireland -- it can function as a geostrategy of tension on a much broader scale

22:12 And you've talked about this endlessly, with the Brzezinski strategy of, if you create lots of little states and balkanize areas and split them all off against one another, then they all end up fighting each other and hating each other. Meanwhile, you can come in looking like the savior -- or at least, get what you want. And this is pretty much what happened in the Balkans in the 1990s at the end of the Cold War. This is almost the exact -- to the letter -- strategy that NATO followed there. So it's the same kind of basic idea and ideology as applied to different theaters of conflict.

22:48 James: So are there any examples of coordination between countries, between different Gladio operations in different countries? Or is it simply just a unification of the same idea and the same types of networks that were all laid down in the '40s?

23:01 Tom: There is a fair bit of coordination in terms of personnel, who kind of obviously belonged to different aspects of this. You've got one guy, Licio Gelli -- I'm not quite sure how you pronounce his surname. He was the, ultimately, the Grandmaster of the P2 Lodge, the Propaganda Due lodge in Italy, which is this kind of neo-fascist Masonic lodge sponsored by the CIA, funded by the CIA. And virtually everyone... their membership list was a veritable who's who of the Italian ruling class on the right wing, including Silvio Berlusconi, of course -- who seems to turn up everywhere, to be honest.

23:43 Anyway, Licio Gelli started out as a Blackshirt. He was one of Mussolini's fascists who they sent over to Spain to fight on the side of Franco in the Spanish Civil War. This is before the Second World War. But like I say, I think Gladio is an outgrowth of these kinds of fascist movements, and almost a kind of commodification of European fascism by NATO and by CIA and by MI6. So he then turns up... during the war, he's working for Italian intelligence, but then seems to flip sides and join American intelligence. Throughout the Cold War, he seems to be working for both the KGB and the CIA at different times. He then finds himself head of this P2 Lodge, who fundamentally seem to have orchestrated the Bologna bombing, the bombing at Bologna railway station in August, 1980.

24:43 Massive bombing by -- at least as far as we know -- a couple of right-wing extremists from the -- their English name is the Armed Revolutionary Cells; I'm not even going to attempt to pronounce the Italian version of that name. They basically stuck a plastic explosive bomb in a bin in a waiting room in the train station on a timer, and it blew up and killed about 80 people and wounded hundreds of others in a massive, massive explosion. This was blamed on local leftists, local communists; but it was, it rather quickly emerged, ultimately an act borne from the fascists in Italy, the P2 Lodge.

25:22 So he kind of crosses over; he's in several different countries working for several different agencies at different times. So you get people like him who kind of turn up in lots of little bits of this story. Oh: he was also involved in the evacuation and extraction of the Nazi scientists to Latin America after the War. He was also involved in that. So he does turn up in lots of different places at different times. But again, that's not really a kind of formalized thing. I think it's just partly the biography of an extraordinary -- a very evil man, but an extraordinary man -- a man who lived an extraordinary life.

25:58 You also do have some slightly more formal things, like Vincenzo Vinciguerra, the guy who -- he was a member of Ordine Nuovo and Avanguardia Nazionale. He was a neo-fascist terrorist in Italy. When he carried out the Peteano bombing, he said this was actually an act of rebellion against the state, that he blew up this car and killed several carabinieri, the military police in Italy, that he did it as a kind of rejection and rebellion against the state for their manipulation of these fascist groups. But...

26:33 That may be true in terms of his motivation, but what happened afterwords was the same Gladio process. The mechanism of cover-up, he says, it came into play, They turned up, they wrote false reports on what kinds of explosives were used, they blamed the wrong people. Meanwhile, he gets shuttled out of the country. He actually gets shuttled over to Spain. So he hides out in Spain for several years until he eventually is caught up with and forced to come back to Italy and face charges for what he did.

27:01 And to some extent, to his credit -- and maybe because he's also a Catholic -- he did kind of come clean and repent to... well, not exactly repent. He came clean and explained what he'd done and what was going on, and he kind of blew the whistle on all of this. So, much as he is also a very evil and horrible person, at least he did ultimately make a significant contribution to human history, I suppose. So there is some degree of formal international networking here, but much like al-Muhajiroun or much like the Maktab al-Khidamat who... that kind of makes up al-Qaeda in the 1990s, these things were more sort of loosely-affiliated groups in different countries that were infiltrated, and used, and to some extent created by intelligence services. That's the closest parallel I think I can draw.

27:53 James: Before we get too far from the topic, I would like you to talk a little bit more about the P2 Lodge. Because this is something that I've heard a lot about, and I've heard about some of the people who are connected to it, but I've never really understood exactly how it functioned or what kind of organization it was, other than some sort of grouping of people with power, basically.

28:11 Tom: Well, I don't know a huge amount about its sort of formal organization. I don't remember ever reading that it was quite as formal as, say, Bilderberg. I don't think it ever had annual meetings, for example. But they did have regular meetings; and they did have a lodge itself, a great big building that had, sort of, snake's heads on top of towers and all kinds of horrible occult gargoyles and all the rest of it: the sort of thing you would expect to find. And the way they functioned was as a sort of covert lobby organization. I mean, they were funded by the CIA, but I don't think they were entirely directed by the CIA. I think the CIA funded them because they were useful, not because they were exactly what the CIA was looking for or entirely manipulate-able -- manipulable -- whatever the word is. [laughter] I think.

29:06 So the way they functioned, I suppose, was by having lots of different people in different industries -- we're talking about media moguls, judges, intelligence agents, police, court officials, government officials, treasury officials, bankers, military people: everyone you can think of who would be useful to a covert national organization -- a parallel government, in many respects, or at least a sort of government within the government that is loyal to a different agenda. Every single type of people that you can think of that you would want for that sort of thing, P2 had. So that seems to be their modus operandi.

29:53 Similar kind of thing with Ergenekon in Turkey, in that you also there -- at least in its original form, not the modern form that's caused a big scandal in Turkey over recent years -- in its original form from the '70s onwards, it was very much like P2 as well. It had people in lots of different sectors of society who were just loyal to a certain political agenda. And they wouldn't necessarily even get together to discuss specific policy decisions or anything like that. It was simply that they operated under the flag of ... well, not even under a flag. Under a flag that didn't even exist. They would simply make decisions of their own back in their own positions of power that would, in their minds, be conducive to this parallel agenda. That seemed to be the way that they fundamentally worked: like a lobby organization would work, but much more covertly.

30:49 James: Or like a terrorist cell, I suppose. Well, interesting sort of background there. So you mentioned, of course, this Vincenzo Vinciguerra as a whistleblower who talked about this, at least his part in this, bigger machinations that were going on. Was he the first whistleblower that came out about this?

31:14 Tom: He was the most important of the early breakthroughs with Gladio.

31:23 James: What era, approximately, are we talking about?

31:27 Tom: Right. Well, he carried out the Peteano bombing, I think, in '73. He then flees for several years. He's mostly off in Spain, but also kind of just running around, hiding. An Italian judge named Felice Casson -- who is interviewed in the same documentary, the Allan Francovich documentary on Gladio, which is the kind of must-watch fundamental material that you need to digest to understand all of this -- he'd kind of got wind that this was going on, that there was this parallel government, that there was this secret army; and he was investigating it. And he in particular was investigating Peteano, because he knew straightaway that they were pinning blame on the wrong people.

32:10 He eventually catches up with Vinciguerra and, I think, brings him back to Italy in 1980. But his trial didn't take place for several more years: I think it wasn't until '84 that he actually went on trial. And that's when you first got the public record of his testimony. Presumably he'd been talking to people, cooperating, for a lot longer than that. But that's when it first sort of started coming out in the papers and started being talked about in the Italian Parliament and so on. Then it's not until 1990 that the then-Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti sensed a change in the winds of... political winds in Italy and decided to come clean about this and say, "Yes, actually, we have had this secret army for the whole of the Cold War; and yes, I knew about it, and quite a lot of other people knew about it." And that's when it all started kind of piling out and gaining mainstream press attention and mainstream political attention.

33:06 James: That's a pretty remarkable six-year gap, when you think about it: from going on the public record with the... at least the earliest leads in this kind of case that any enterprising journalist would have been able to at least start piecing together, and then to not really pursue that until six years later. As you say, Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti delivered an address to the Italian Parliament in October 24, 1990, which really kind of blew the lid off of it and got the ball rolling. That, as I say, is a remarkable six-year gap, and I think speaks volumes to just how controlled the Italian media, at the very least, would have been at that time. But what can you say about the political wind change, or whatever it was, that allowed the Prime Minister to come out and finally admit this?

33:54 Tom: Well, I mean, this is part of a process that had been going on for, I think, at least a couple of decades. And it's not just about Gladio, and it's not just about Western Europe. It's about the whole function of the security services, of the secret services in all these different countries. Because you not only had the Church Committee in the '70s, kind of post-Watergate, post-all of the stuff with Cuba. And an awful lot of dirty laundry did actually come out through that. Sure, plenty of secrets didn't get told, and plenty of things still were covered up, but that's one of the things that, I think, symbolizes this change in the winds.

34:38 Because then you get echoes of that in Europe. You started to get... people in the '70s started to publish some of these training manuals and other documents that had been leaked, or whatever, by members of Gladio or people who'd found out about Gladio and were angry about it. And that started in the '70s in Europe. Took us a bit longer to actually get any kind of formal investigation together. And again, those investigations were compromised; they never really got to, I suppose, the meat of this issue. But at least they took place.

35:14 It's an important thing to remember that plenty of times, states have carried out acts of terrorism -- through proxies, or directly, or whatever -- and just got away with it. No one really ever did anything about it. Whereas at least in some cases -- and there are, again, parallels with Northern Ireland and the British thing there -- at least these things have been officially investigated up to some point. At least there is some information that you can go to to try and make sense of this and to try and figure out, OK, what happened, and therefore how does it apply to what's happening today -- in the political struggles today.

35:49 There were a whole series of court cases in Europe, many of which went to European courts, to the European government, the super-state government, ultimately, that were involved... people who'd been accused of things and they were being, for example, refused access to secret recordings that had been made of them that were making up part of the prosecution's case against them: that sort of legal hypocrisy. I think there was... I can't remember the name of the particular guy, but there was a case that got to the European Court of Human Rights in the '80s that was on that basis.

36:25 And out of this came a kind of political mandate for all of these services to be placed on a statutory basis, to actually be put into law: what they are, what they're supposed to be doing, what they're not supposed to be doing. Because most of them were just like MI6: they basically functioned, up until that point, on the say-so of the government. And there was no real kind of proper code of ethics or code of regulation or anything saying, "This is what this institution is and is not supposed to be doing."

36:55 So that was happening all over the Western world throughout the '70s and '80s, and I think that sort of culminated with Andreotti -- who was never really committed to any political agenda except his own power, it seems. He was basically committed to himself. He realized this was happening and decided to be, I suppose, one of the first out of the door. Because then you're much less likely to actually get caught in the cross-fire and actually get blamed for anything. Though Andreotti himself was convicted for his involvement in a mafia-related murder of a P2 Lodge member who was a journalist, called Mino Pecorelli, who was trying to blow the whistle on Gladio in Italy in the 1970s and got shot to pieces by the Mob. And it seems that Andreotti was involved in the conspiracy behind that. He did actually get convicted in 2001, 2002, something like that, for his involvement in this. Though, because the Italian courts are a bit of a game show, he never actually served any time in prison and successfully appealed against this. But the man's guilty as hell: I mean, everyone knows that.

37:58 James: Well, then let's bring the story up to the current day, because obviously we're here 23 years, now, after the revelation of Gladio, and we've had a lot of time to digest what occurred. And I mean, the question is: is this something that is completely in the past? Is this something that we can now sit and look and see what kind of warning it could provide for the future? Or what is the historical relevance of this? What is the relevance of this to our current day and age?

38:31 Tom: Well, there were a whole bunch of Parliamentary investigations into Gladio in the early 1990s, and there was quite a lot of mainstream media attention. The various member states of NATO that admitted to having these Gladio-type secret armies all, pretty, much, claimed, "We've now shut them down; they no longer exist; these units have been disbanded," I suppose. But of course, whether or not that's actually true is -- I suppose, make up your own mind really.

39:09 But we see a very similar thing going on today. We see the same kinds of strategies being involved. We see the same infiltration of radical organizations, the same kind of militarization and provocation towards violent acts by various state agents in various organizations. And not just acts that actually get carried out, but quite often the kind of FBI-style sting entrapment scams -- which do take place in other countries as well, it's just that the FBI are a bit more obvious about it and kind of openly admit, "We had this informant inside this group for a whole year, and he was the one that was funding them, and he was the one that was saying, 'Oh, we should blow this up;' or 'We should try and shoot this person.'"

39:51 So the same kinds of strategies are still being employed. And as I kind of alluded to earlier, I think there is a lot of... there are a lot of parallels you can draw between an organization like the Aginter Press, who were Gladio hardcore, and organizations like al-Muhajiroun and al-Qaeda -- which are now both sort of a bit dead and buried. No one really talks about them much anymore. But what is rather clear from any formal or informal history of them is that they were riddled with secret service agents; and that to some extent, they were, if not actively set up by the intelligence services, they were proxies working for the intelligence services. And they provided the exact same thing: they shipped people around, they provided contacts for people, they helped radicalize people, they helped train them, they helped move money from country to country. All of these different sorts of things that we saw in Gladio, we see again through the 1990s and throughout the first decade of this century in al-Qaeda and al-Muhajiroun and all of that.

40:53 So I think that's a kind of distinct parallel and a distinct quandary for us in the present day. We also have the question, I suppose, of -- we got into this a little bit in our talk about Anders Breivik -- the possibility of the same sort of polarization, where on the left, I suppose, you would have the Islamic organizations, but on the right, you would have the more, kind of, staunch nationalist organizations. In this country we had the National Front which then became the British National Party, but that is an organization that has a sort of a political wing and, obviously, a more violent militant wing -- and also, I'm sure, is infiltrated by MI5. So... well, and there are actually some examples that we know of where they have been successfully infiltrated by Special Branch or whoever.

41:50 So we have the possibility there that there is a new polarization: not between international Communism, Soviet Communism -- but on the one hand, I suppose you would have international Islamism or at least related things, related ideologies and beliefs -- and on right you would have the same old thing, the neo-fascists, the nationalists. The, sort of, fanatical ethnic nationalists as well. All of that group of organizations and people. And they, very much, have a huge hostility towards one another. They are incredibly suspicious and incredibly angry towards one another in much the same way, and we end up getting caught up in this.

42:36 We end up... through this polarization, you sort of see the middle ground disappear. So you can't really occupy... there isn't really a moderate position out there to say, "Yeah, I kind of identify with this." Not that I'm even saying we necessarily should, but just there isn't -- that isn't really on the table. All we're really offered is between these kind of polar opposites, or fake polar opposites: a choice between them. And it's not really a choice at all. And as I say, the critical thing to understand is that through that polarization, and through that disappearing of the middle ground or any kind of moderate voice, you then create a vacuum into which powerful people can pour whatever it is that they want.

43:15 James: So I guess it might be useful as we did earlier to differentiate between Operation Gladio as some sort of formal operation, and the philosophy of the strategy of tension which was a key operational tool of these stay-behind units. And that strategy of tension can endure even after the disbanding of Operation Gladio, should that have actually have happened.

43:38 Tom: Oh, absolutely. And of course, plenty of those people who were involved in Gladio are dead now, so it doesn't really matter. They have no influence -- not that much influence -- after they're dead. Though Yves Guérin-Sérac is apparently still alive somewhere -- though no one's gonna find him. Yet, the strategy of tension is alive and well, and the geostrategy of tension is alive and well. Precisely whether those particular units of Gladio are still functioning or whether their functions have simply been subsumed by other units, or taken over by whole other agencies in some cases: I mean, again, it's kind of, who really cares?

44:23 What matters is, are they still infiltrating terrorist organizations? And the answer is yes. The question, are they still carrying out false-flag terrorism for their various political agendas? The answer is yes. Is the strategy of tension still being used to, basically, divide and conquer us? I think so, yes. Those are the important lessons for us to learn. The precise facts of the matter are, A., very hard to get to; and B., perhaps not all that important given that we are, now, sort of 20 years later.

44:57 James: At the very least. Yes, exactly.

44:59 Tom: Yes.

44:59 James: Well, I agree with that. Well, that leaves us, I think, with a nice bow to tie around this conversation, but I know there's so much to cover with something like Operation Gladio. Are there any other pieces to this puzzle that you'd like to fit in before we leave it here?

45:15 Tom: Yeah, sure, if I can have just a few minutes more to get into. There is one document that's really important to the Gladio story called... well, known as "FM 30-31B." This is the US Army Field Manual series, their training manual series. 30-31 is the manual title; B is the supposed classified Appendix B to this manual that was used for the Gladio units. And it describes, specifically, how in times where certain countries have Communist movements that are becoming popular -- or any insurgent movement that's becoming popular, for that matter -- and the government isn't really opposed to this too much, and the public aren't really opposed to this too much: then the means of creating opposition is, as we found, to infiltrate left-wing organizations and use them as proxies for carrying out various atrocities to then use to demonize them. Or, failing that, you infiltrate right-wing organizations and get them to carry out false-flags.

46:22 And the doctrine in this document is very, very explicit. That's pretty much what it says. Now, it first turns up in a Turkish newspaper, being printed in a Turkish newspaper, I think, in the early '70s. It then gets reprinted in Covert Action Quarterly -- which is a sort of old-school, if you like, conspiracy journal. It sort of gets bandied around quite a lot in a few different places for quite a few different years. It does turn up in the parliamentary inquiries in Belgium and Italy. They both included copies of it in their reports, so they thought it was important. Oh: it turned up in Italy because of a raid on Licio Gelli's mansion. They found it in his house.

47:12 Now, the CIA in some sort of Senate hearing in the late '70s said that this is a fake. They say it's a Soviet forgery, it's disinformation, it's KGB. Whatever. The reasons that they give make absolutely no sense if you actually know the history of US Army Field Manuals. I won't get into the nitty-gritty details, but rest assured: their arguments don't make any sense. And why is it, even, the CIA talking about this when it's supposed to be a Department of Defense document anyway? So they're talking nonsense.

47:42 And besides, it... when Allan Francovich interviewed Licio Gelli, he asked him, "Where did you get this? Why did this turn up in your house?" And he said, "A friend in the CIA gave it to me and told me to read it." So my feeling on this is even if it was originally a Soviet forgery -- which is, I suppose, possible; and looking at it, it's not the most convincing of documents, it might be a forgery -- again, doesn't matter. What matters is how was it being used, what was its influence. And the answer is, it was being used by the CIA to encourage these kinds of practices and encourage this model of infiltration and provocation and the whole Strategy of Tension.

48:25 James: And I trust that it's linked up from InvestigatingTheTerror.com.

48:30 Tom: Yes, of course it is. It's in my Gladio Document Collection. I nicked the copy that's on Cryptome to include in that, but you can find other copies of it elsewhere. Yeah, it's in the Gladio Document Collection, as is a lot of this material that we've been talking about today.

48:46 James: Perhaps we should direct people to, once again, to InvestigatingTheTerror.com and tell them how they can find the Gladio Document Collection.

48:54 Tom: OK. Well, yeah, it's my website for all of this sort of material that I've been putting together for years. An awful lot of it is original documentation, but it's also... there is also quite a lot of analysis and things on the website, too. There are several different sections you can see on the navigation bar. If you click on documents and then you click on the e-book series button that appears on that page, on the documents page, that takes you to the page for my e-book collection. They're all free, they're all free to download.

49:26 The e-books: there's one on Northwoods, one on Gladio, one on David Headley, one on Junaid Babar. They all contain full introductions to each of the items that I've included in the collection, and why I've included it, and what I think of it. There are, also, some dossiers that are just kinds of little summaries of FBI files or whatever that I found particularly interesting or that I was using for a particular article or whatever. But they're all free to download, and they're free to look at.

49:51 James: And I hope people will make use of that resource. Again, there's just so much behind this, so I hope people will really take a look at some of those documents. But I think that's going to do it for today. So Tom Secker, let's leave it there. Once again, InvestigatingTheTerror.com: I hope people will check it out. Tom Secker, thank you so much for your time.

50:11 Tom: Thank you, James. Good to talk to you.

50:15 James: All right, let's leave it there.

50:16 [END]


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This transcript by "Adjuvant" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

changed November 2, 2014